Spencer is a fictional historical drama directed by Pablo Larain and written by Stephen Knight, author of the series Peaky Blinders. The plot follows a fictional depiction of Princess Diana’s decision to end her marriage to Prince Charles and leave the royal family. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and will arrive in cinemas on November 5. The title of the film refers to the maiden name of the late princess, who would celebrate her 60th birthday this year.
Spencer movie review, plot
The plot of the film is set in December 1991, when the marriage of Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) and Prince Charles has long since cooled down. There are many rumors about scandals and divorce, and the two of them are making an apparent peace for the sake of a three-day Christmas celebration at the Queen’s estate Sandringham, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the abandoned Spencer estate. During the celebration, Diana feels like she is in isolation at home, which is starting to affect her mental health and she soon becomes tired of playing traditional Christmas games that include church attendance, photography and hunting.
People have been fascinated by Princess Diana since her fairytale rise from a girl from the people to the Princess of England. Her life story seemed like a dream, she became the wife of a man who is okay to become the next king, but her real experiences were far from a dream. The authors of this film focus on those experiences filled with hypothetical nights of uncertainty and regret, so there are no public appearances, philanthropic works and everything that made the princess famous.
For Diana, the royal family more or less progressed to total irrelevance, except for the lives and marriages of her sons, who themselves were eager to leave the tradition. For a little over two hours, we follow the visibly upset and unhappy Diana who is trying to cope during the celebration, suspecting that everyone in her husband’s family wishes her ill, that is, that they see only potential trouble in her. She wanders the hallways and possessions filled with indignation and hallucinations, gives strange statements to the staff and imagines the spirit of Anna Bohlen, the famous English queen of the 16th century.
The idea of this film is to present Diana as a wounded soul who has been led to self-destructive behavior, who avoids traditional obligations and who channels her pain by becoming a kind of rebel in the false world of the royal family. Diana is afraid that people will believe that she has gone crazy, and the film, with its paranoid mood and narrative that emphasizes just that, does not deter us from that idea, on the contrary. Scene after scene presents Diana’s torments and disappointments, and I must admit that I was not sure if all this, no matter how skillfully realized, is really worth the film.
Larain’s long shots, close-ups and unrelated editing place us in Diana’s cramped and disturbing way of thinking, in which Johnny Greenwood’s music further emphasizes that for her, a lavish castle is a cold prison. As for Kristen Stewart in the lead role, she does not play Princess Diana as much, although she is quite similar, as she represents the protagonist affected by fear in the almost horror story that became her life. Although I’m not too thrilled with her performance, the fact is that she is the brightest point of this film.
Spencer is a poetic historical drama that offers us a melodramatic vision of Princess Diana, whose splendor and protocols represented prison, but it does not help us to understand it with certainty. Final rating: 6/10
Spencer movie cast and characters
- Kristen Stewart as Diana
- Timothy Spall as Major Alistar Gregory
- Jack Nielen as William
- Freddie Spry as Harry
- Jack Farthing as Charles
- Sean Harris as Darren
- Stella Gonet as The Queen
- Richard Sammel as Prince Philip
- Elizabeth Berrington as Princess Anne
- Lore Stefanek as Queen Mother
- Amy Manson as Anne Boleyn
- Sally Hawkins as Maggie and more